Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekly message from Bishop David Anderson

The weekly message from the American Anglican Council, via email [boldface mine]:

Beloved in Christ,

First of all, we at the AAC extend our heartfelt sympathy to those whose children perished in the dormitory fire near Kampala, Uganda this week. May the Lord comfort your souls. If this fire was indeed set deliberately, we pray that the perpetrators will be identified soon. BBC coverage of the story may be found here.

In the US this week, a question on many orthodox Episcopalian minds has to do with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's inhibition of retired Bishop MacBurney (80 years of age) while he was dealing with the imminent death of his son. She was advised of the difficulty of the moment by the Bishop of Quincy, Keith Ackerman, but apparently cared not. Now MacBurney's son has died and with funeral plans in place, Schori has suddenly written him to lift the inhibition (temporarily and in a limited manner) so that he can function in the services for his son.

What caused her post facto swelling of concern and pastoral care? If it was really derivative of her caring, why did she not wait two or three weeks and then inhibit him? What was the hurry, given that she knew of his situation? One would suspect that others, perhaps farther up the ecclesial ladder, gave her counsel. It seems that Jefferts Schori's continuing difficulty is that she can't get it right the first time.

Jefferts Schori recently polled the TEC bishops to see if they might agree to hold a May meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops. This is code for "can we gather and depose Bishop Duncan just like we did Cox and Schofield?" The answer was apparently unenthusiastic. Whether this was attributable to reconsideration of the improperly done executions at the last meeting or busy calendars before the Lambeth Conference isn't known.

The Presiding Bishop's office seems to be applying pressure on local dioceses to ramp up the aggression on orthodox churches, especially those that have left TEC. Apparently, even where conversations have been underway towards negotiating a settlement, the "new sheriff in town" wants those negotiations ended, preferring the approach of a proverbial law firm "Dewey, Suem & Howe." TEC has now launched litigation against Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, NY, and their well-known rector, Fr. Matt Kennedy, who is one of the founders of the Stand Firm blog and a member of the AAC Board of Trustees.

In Connecticut, the stand-in, bishop James Curry, acting while diocesan bishop Andrew Smith is on sabbatical, launched an attack on a parish in Groton which is named for Bishop Samuel Seabury. Although the parish voted 100% to leave TEC and the diocese of CT and relocate to the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), and although the congregation of some 800 active members and their priest of 35 years, Fr. Ron Gauss, are still using the church building, Bishop Curry has appointed a priest-in-charge, and has demanded the keys to the church and the records. Sounds like "here's your hat, and don't let the door hit you on your way out." Fr. Ron and the parish refused those demands, and fully intend to continue worshipping in the church which they built and paid for.

We are waiting to see if Lambeth Palace sends a letter to Bishop Schofield telling him that his previous invitation to Lambeth is withdrawn. It would not be surprising, since Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office follow the lead of the Episcopal Church's handling of depositions, ignoring any counter arguments or claims. We observed the unfair and improper manner in which Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office dealt with Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife and his diocese when he moved from Brazil to the Southern Cone. We would be surprised if they handled the San Joaquin issue any differently. We would NOT be surprised if Jefferts Schori doesn't, perchance, show up in England in the immediate neighborhood of the General Synod held prior to Lambeth. This would, of course, provide an opportunity for her to bring greetings, etc., all unplanned, as it were. This is also why there needs to be a re-arrangement of the polity of the Anglican Communion, such that the piping of TEC does not call the tune in London.

Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson
President and CEO, American Anglican Council

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